Shotgun Start: State golf association looking for ‘normal’ year

After the year of the pandemic, the Arkansas State Golf Association is looking for a more normal 2021 season.

“I’d say full speed cautiously ahead,” said Jay Fox, who will retire as executive director in December after his 31st season with the ASGA. “Last year we pretty much just did our majors. I don’t want to call it rag-tag, but we knew early on we weren’t going to have as many events.

“This year, as a staff we’ll still wear masks when we’re around our players on the first tee and what have you. We’re not ‘damn-the-torpedos’ full speed ahead. We’re just being very cautious, very safe and understanding that the pandemic has certainly not gone away.”

The ASGA Men’s Four-Ball will be played this weekend at Hot Springs Country Club.

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Fox said among the pandemic accommodations this season would be asking players to wear masks any time they’re inside the scoring area and distancing on the first tee.

“We’ll put hula hoops on the ground at least six feet apart and six feet from the person making the announcements,” he said. “Don’t be hugging up on your buddy. At our Four-ball, we’ll start letting players ride with their partners, or they can request to ride by themselves. Most are riding in the same car (to the event) anyway,”

Despite the limited 2020 schedule, 11 players were honored as Players of the Year:

  • MacKenzie Lee of North Little Rock, junior girls

  • Caleb Miller of Cabot, junior boys

  • Josie Roberson of Maumelle, women’s amateur

  • Josh McNulty of White Hall, men’s amateur

  • Trey Schaap of Maumelle, men’s mid-amateur

  • Brenda Alexander of Bentonville, women’s senior

  • Gordy McKeown of Little Rock, men’s senior

  • Pam Evans of Maumelle, women’s super senior

  • Bob Brooks of Bella Vista, men’s super senior

  • Pat Elliott of Hot Springs, women’s masters

  • Bill Wrentz of Cabot, men’s masters.

But another victim of the pandemic was the annual ASGA Hall of Fame banquet, which had been scheduled for October. This year, the 2020 honorees — Tracy Harris, Kim Backus, Stacy Lewis and the late Ernie Breckenridge — will be inducted, and the 2021 Players of the Year will also be recognized at the ASGA event on Sept. 27. Fox said the site was still being finalized.

“It will be similar to what we’re used to, but we’re planning for social distancing because we don’t know where we’re going to be (in the pandemic) by September,” he said.

Bryant Fortin, who started at the ASGA as director of junior golf and is now director of women’s golf, will succeed Fox as executive director. Fox, who joined the ASGA in December 1990 when he replaced the late Charles (Monk) Wade, will stay on staff in an advisory capacity. Tyler Meyl is director of junior golf. Terri Green is director of membership and finance.